And now for a year of…

…rest. Apparently.

So every year I try to have a word that is my focus and after waiting on God for this years word, I pondered what the year looked like (so far): two jobs, both needing my full attention, studying, continuing in various roles within church groups and, obviously, I still have a husband and family.

And the word that God gave me? REST.

Yeah, right. I thought it would be something like focus or intention or efficiency. But no. Rest.

rest 1 |restverb [ no obj. ] cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength.

So I’m trying to rest. I really am. And I’m discovering the true rest that only Jesus can provide – “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Finding rest in this life, this world, is tricky and often unsatisfactory. But I know the One who made it all and if He says that coming to Him and resting is the only way I am going to manage this year, then that is what I will do. I will relax in His presence, refresh myself by remembering Him and all He is and I will recover strength by drawing on His spirit.

And I’ve changed the photo on this blog to serve as a reminder to rest, for there is nowhere I feel more rested that amongst His creation and in particular, when I’m near the ocean.

I’m grateful for this word. Not surprisingly, it turns out it actually is the perfect word for this year 🙂

 

 

Day 9 – the beach

So grateful today for easy access to gorgeous beaches that lift spirits and remind the soul to breathe. 

Although at the start of the day our moods weren’t the best and the traffic decided to try and make them worse, by the end of the day we all agreed it had been wonderful and just what we all needed. 

How can anyone stay in a bad mood with that view? 😊 

  

Sometimes, it’s the small things that separate

IMG_3490

I took this photo on our holiday earlier in the year. I was so struck by the ridiculousness of this tiny rock keeping these two big boulders separate.

It’s funny how small things can keep other things apart. Like people.

You know the scenario, a small issue with your spouse blows up into something huge and before you know it, you’re both going to bed shrouded in a heavy silence.

Or that work colleague who always uses your mug.

Or it might be a small word that keeps people apart, spoken in jest or in haste.

Sometimes it’s a small thing like a ‘sorry’ not said, or an ‘I love you’ that remains unspoken and forges a space in a relationship that might as well be a chasm.

Yes, sometimes it’s the small things that separate.

Those two boulders were huge; that stone in between was small. And you know what? Because I’m the curious-can’t-leave-anything-alone kind, I reached in and tried to move that small stone. It moved, quite freely too.

Often when we look closely at the things keeping us apart from others, we discover they are just small stones, that move quite easily when prodded. Don’t let the small things keep you separated from those who matter to you. Go on, give that small stone a wiggle and see what happens!

NB. For the record, I didn’t fully dislodge the stone. I’m not that silly!

Grow where you’re planted

I’ve spent a good amount of my life feeling like I didn’t ‘fit in’. I was never popular, never cool, not particularly sporty, and definitely not smart enough to hang with the ‘nerds’. There just was not a group where I could look around and say to myself, ‘yes, these are my people!’. The result is that once I hit about 30, I realised I didn’t care and that the sound of my own drum resonated with me, even if it didn’t for anyone else. And that was liberating.

Since coming back from Thailand a year and a half ago, that feeling has slowly but steadily been creeping back but with a different slant. I look around at all I have, at all we have, in the Western world and wonder why I’m here. Why do I get to have running water, electricity, the right to vote, the ability to receive an education and find gainful employment? Why me?

Contentment is the art of being at peace no matter our circumstances. And we generally take that to mean when we are going through difficulties but does anyone else find it hard to be content with the ‘plenty’ we have? I do. And it’s a constant challenge, not to be grateful, but to be okay with all we have.

While at the beach on our holiday, I came across this weed growing out of the rocks. The yellow was such an unexpected bright spot against the rocks. The words ‘grow where you’re planted’ popped into my mind.

Daisy in rock

It’s tempting to think we have been planted in the wrong spot. It’s tempting to uproot ourselves and go where we think we will be best suited. We’re not content with just growing where we are. We’re always on the lookout for a climate that we think will encourage more growth, where our true potential will be maximised.

Sometimes, it’s important to remember that we are where we are for a reason. We may never fully understand that reason but until we fully embrace our surroundings, we won’t grow or bloom. Maybe you are where you are simply to provide that bright spot among the blacks and browns in someone else’s landscape.

Having the best of both worlds

We’re on holidays this week and as it’s technically winter here, we decided against our usual beach holiday and headed for the NSW hills.

And we’re loving it. This is the view from the verandah.

Our forest retreat.

Yeah, it’s pretty hard to wake up to that each morning 😉

Today we ventured out a little and, surprise, surprise, found ourselves at the beach.

Diamond Head

We’ve realised that while we can have a great time anywhere, we all hanker after the beach. The expanse of blue sea, golden sand and relative ‘aloneness’ has a pull we can’t seem to resist. And as we walk, each wandering in different directions and coming back to each other to show a special shell or tell about some sea life in the rock pools, we are connected but have space. We’re together in our separateness.

The forest is wonderful, and for me, holds a special place in my heart as I grew up in the bush. And what is especially wonderful about where we are on this holiday is that we can wake up to the peace and serenity of the bush, and yet just 30 minutes away, we can sink our toes in the sand and rejuvenate by long walks and some alone, thinking time.

Yes, sometimes you really can have the best of both worlds.

Beach escape, day eight – best reason ever to go home

So we went straight from our holiday to the airport to pick up our son who had been flown here just for the weekend by some beautiful friends, because it’s his birthday next week.

Of all the things I’ve seen this week, this is definitely one of my favourite sights 🙂

ZanA big, big thank you to our friends for this wonderful treat. It was the best reason ever to come home after a magical weeks holiday 🙂

Beach escape, day seven – the dreaded last day

Tomorrow we head home. We made the most of the day by spending the morning at Shark Bay, where we got up close to sleeping pelicans and saw a dead sea snake in the sand, and the afternoon here, at Iluka beach, where we swum (well, the ten year old did – it was freezing!), played cricket, chatted and laughed.

panorama beachYou can tell by this photo that we stayed late, just so we could squeeze every last ounce of ‘beach, sun and sand’ from the last of our week here.

We all agree we have made the most of every day. And now we have the ‘we-have-to-go-home-to-reality’ blues.

BUT! We have something special happening this weekend, thanks to wonderful friends, so that makes it a bit easier to leave.

I’ll tell you what the special happening is tomorrow 🙂

 

Beach escape, day six – whales

During our last visit here, we went whale watching. And took this photo – Whale Fin

We had an absolutely amazing time. It truly was one of the best days of my life.

As we walked along the beach, headed to the rock pools, I remarked that the sea was so flat and glass like that we surely would see any whales or dolphins who happened to be passing the area.

Sure enough, not ten minutes later, Charli spotted a telltale splash on the horizon.

We all rushed to the furtherest rock to watch flippers, just like the one in this photo, rise and fall way out yonder. We stayed for an hour or more, pointing out to each other when we saw one, or two or three flippers, tails or great spurts of water.

And we reminisced about the time when we literally could have touched them that day four years ago. We laughed all over again about how four of them popped up at the back of the boat and eyeballed us before spraying us with their fishy breath. And how at that exact moment I had my mouth wide open with sheer joy and copped a big mouthful of salty, disgusting whale saliva. And how I immediately said it was the best thing ever.

Seeing those flippers off in the distance today made us relive the entire experience.

Isn’t it great that God made us with the ability to store memory, and that in the remembering, we can find all the joy, excitement and wonder of the first experience?

We may never get to go whale watching again, or, if we did, have the sort of experience we had that day but we will always have those memories.

What special memories do you have that will last a lifetime?

Beach escape, day five – country vs city

minnie waterToday we headed off for a day trip after reading about the above spot called Minnie Water in a tourist guide last night. It was nice but we all agreed we preferred where we were staying.

Along the way back we stopped twice, once for lunch and another time for petrol.

Both times, we were met with a decidedly unfriendly attitude from the staff. Not overtly rude, just not warm or welcoming. These are towns with less than a thousand population.

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that there is a bit of a theory that country folk are friendlier than city folk. It seems that’s not a hard and fast rule, after all, we’re city folk, but we’re pretty friendly 😉

Just goes to show, it doesn’t really matter where you are, but it does matter who you are. And that’s the big difference.

Oh and just because it was cool and the main excitement for the day once we returned to our beloved Shark Bay rock pools, here’s a picture of the urchin we found. It was as big as my palm – I know that because I picked it up!

urchin

 

Beach escape, day four – seaweed and stones

Sometimes, my life feels like seaweed, washed up, messy, dirty and a bit smelly when the wind blows in the wrong direction.
seaweed

And other times, it feel like smooth stones, balanced, harmonious and serene; perfect in it’s imperfections.

stones

You can probably guess how I’m feeling this week, so how are you feeling? Like seaweed? Or like the stones?